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H is for .... Design Terms Glossary

Non-designers Essential Glossary of Design Terms

Every industry, business and profession has its own language and that language can leave you feeling confused and result in lots of misunderstandings.  We thought you might find our Design Terms Glossary useful whether you are using the training in our Members’ section or dealing with a graphic designer directly.

Hard Copy

Hard Copy



Proof read a hard copyWhen a design is printed out of a computer graphics program onto paper or card it is called a hard copy, as opposed to digital copy.

It is often easier and more accurate to proof read a hard copy than trying to do the same on a screen, so usually a designer will send you a hard copy as your final proof before you sign a job off.

If you are designing for yourself, printing a copy of your final design to look at in hard copy, before you send it to be reproduced or put on your website  is well worth the cost in printing ink.



Hex Colour Coding

Hex codes



Hexadecimal Colour Coding (Hex Codes for short) are the way that hues (colours) are precisely defined by a graphic designer to communicate to others the exact shade, tone, tint and value of colour they want to reproduce.

Using Hex codes it is possible to pinpoint and name 16,777,216 individual colours!

Without going in to too much detail a hexadecimal code is a six-digit number used to define precise colours on a computer – most graphic designers will be using either SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) to design with or HTML (Hypertext Mark-up Language) to build websites, so the Hex system is the most widely used, although other systems are also available.

This is just an example of the 16,777,216 individual colours you can choose from:


So how do you find all the others?

Easy – here is a link to our favourite hex code finder website at

On this website you can select any colour you like from the full selection available and it will give you the code – just copy it down and you can be guaranteed to replicate that colour again and again and again perfectly!





Highlight, Midtone, ShadowHighlights are the lightest part of a photograph or image that are brighter than the rest of the image and therefore catch the eye.

A highlight is often found where light bounces off a shiny or wet object and when used correctly can make images appear glossy and vibrant.

When drawing graphics, designers sometimes add highlight area using graduated whites to give a 3D feeling to an otherwise 2D image.






Hue including Saturation and Value

Colour Value diagramHue is really just another name for colour, but it’s a bit more precise than that.

A HUE (colour) that is at its full 100% strength, with no white or black added, is FULLY SATURATED – in other words, as bright as it can be.

A HUE that is less than 100% strength is said to have a low VALUE as the top diagram here shows – going from 100% FULLY SATURATED in the centre to just 1% SATURATION at the edge.

When a fully saturated colour is mixed with a percentage of another colour or black, the HUE becomes MUTED.


Muted SaturationAs you can see in the diagram on the right, new HUES are beginning to form as the basic colours are muted by the addition of a new colour.

As you can see, colour is so much more than the shades we can name, and when it comes to graphic design colour HAS to be reproduced EXACTLY for branding to work.

So when designers talk about HUE, SATURATION and VALUE  it’s not enough to say red or turquoise or pale yellow or murky green.

Thankfully there are ways to pinpoint colours exactly!

See the page called Hex Colour Coding for more details.


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